Mothers of Obese Children Use More Direct Imperatives to Restrict Eating

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To examine the association of mother and child characteristics with use of direct imperatives to restrict eating.


A total of 237 mother–child dyads (mean child age, 70.9 months) participated in a video-recorded, laboratory-standardized eating protocol with 2 large portions of cupcakes. Videos were reliably coded for counts of maternal direct imperatives to restrict children's eating. Anthropometrics were measured. Regression models tested the association of participant characteristics with counts of direct imperatives.


Child obese weight status and maternal white non-Hispanic race/ethnicity were associated with greater levels of direct imperatives to restrict eating (p = .0001 and .0004, respectively).

Conclusions and Implications:

Mothers of obese children may be using more direct imperatives to restrict eating so as to achieve behavioral compliance to decrease their child's food intake. Future work should consider the effects direct imperatives have on children's short- and long-term eating behaviors and weight gain trajectories.

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